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L.A. residents complain GPS app Waze is creating "insanity" on their street

Waze creating "insanity" on L.A. street?
L.A. residents complain Waze is creating "insanity" on their street 03:15

It's bumper-to-bumper traffic on Baxter Street as Los Angeles commuters make their way home. Jeff Hartman has lived here for 20 years and said he's never seen it this bad. He said he thinks GPS apps are responsible for the traffic.
The app most people on the street blame is Waze, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans. When you put in an address across town, the normal route is full of traffic, so the routes drivers through Baxter Street.

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But Baxter Street looks more like a roller coaster track with a 30 percent grade, making it one of the steepest streets in the country. It's even steeper than San Francisco's world-famous Lombard Street.
"And are they prepared for it when they get here?" Carter asked.

"I don't think so," Hartman said. "When you get to the top, you can't see the hill on the other side, or the street, so people tend to stop. And that's where a lot of the problems come." 


Hartman has seen it all: cars flipped into his neighbor's yard or stalled and slipping down the hill in the rain. His neighbors have documented a number of dangerous accidents.

"They took out my trellis, my retaining wall, my picket fence… it looked like a plane crashed through my front yard," one neighbor said. 

"He lost control of the car and ended up rolling over two driveways," another said.
It's even worse for bigger vehicles that can get stuck at the top when their wheels lose traction. And it's not just in Los Angeles, GPS-based apps are creating problems in cities across the country

"People will do whatever the app tells them to and it's scary sometimes," said Tom Rowe, police chief in Leonia, New Jersey.
Leonia solved the problem by restricting side streets to residents only during rush hour, which caused Waze to remove the shortcuts.
As for Baxter Street in Los Angeles, Waze told CBS News that since "the city has placed a public road there... it should be considered usable within Waze." Neighbors say Waze needs to do a better job of warning drivers and say the problem can't be curbed soon enough.
"Screeching and honking and sirens and insanity all the time," Diana Wagman said.

Los Angeles officials said making this a one-way street or restricting turns could rule out Baxter as a shortcut. Waze said it encourages drivers to report any hazardous conditions, including steep inclines, and it often takes that information into account when Waze refines its maps.

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